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Circus and carnival party ideas

Come one, come all, to the greatest simcha on earth!

for The Brooklyn Paper

Photo gallery

Smart pop: an imaginative twist on cupcakes.
Pair glow-in-the-dark mustaches with tiny top hats and dumbbells and you’re guests can pretend they’re the Strong Man or the ringmaster.
A cotton candy machine makes everyone giddy.
Kids can become their favorite circus character with the help of a little face paint.
Not sure what kind of dessert to serve at your circus-themed party? How about them candied apples?
Rollercoaster invitations from Hydraulic Graphix( will set the tone for a party full of twists and turns.
Want your party to be a ‘Big’ hit? Guests will love a fortune-telling Zoltar machine.
Make a big decorative statement with a small carousel.
Does your banquet hall need a unique twist? Hire an aerialist.
No carnival is complete without fresh popped popcorn.
Set the world on fire with a fire breather.
Make a splash with a dunk tank.

Step right up and witness a bar mitzvah unlike one you have ever seen before! It’s got games, it’s got food, it’s got a live lion — well maybe not a lion — but you get the idea! Give your party a unique spin that would make an aerialist proud with a circus-themed bar mitzvah.


Have your guests grab red and white tent-stripped plates and lead them in the direction of the Fat Lady’s buffet stocked full of carnival favorites like elephant peanuts, kosher corndogs, kettle corn, hamburgers, funnel cakes, and roasted corn. For entrees, serve a white tiger’s sized steak with the ring leader’s onion rings, the fire breather’s hot chili, and the bearded lady’s angel hair pasta.

For dessert try a candy-your-own apple station where guests can choose from dips that range from caramel to chocolate with plenty of fun toppings like sprinkles, M&Ms, coconut, and peanut butter chips.

You can also have fun with different kinds of circus-themed cupcakes. You can create one-of-a-kind cupcakes and even put them on a decorative Ferris wheel. Or try making popcorn cupcakes using mini marshmallows (see slide show above!)

You are going to need a lion tamer to keep your guests at bay with this fun, creative menu!


Party decorations for a circus theme can be budget-friendly, so there’s no need to feel like a tightrope walker about to fall. Invite your friends to the greatest show on Earth with inexpensive “Admit one” ticket invitations or if you want to spend a little extra (fried) dough, check out the adorable rollercoaster ticket invitations in the above slide show.

Give everyone the feeling of being at a Ringling Bros. show by hanging red and white-stripped Big Top streamers on the ceiling. Place large animal statues like giraffes and elephants around the party hall. Create fun and surprising centerpieces for your tables like filling popcorn boxes with tons of treats.

Add a few more kernels of circus flair to your party by renting a popcorn and cotton candy machine.


The circus is all about putting on a show, so entertainment should be spectacular. Hire a photo booth so your friends and family can take silly pictures with mustache props reminiscent of the Strong Man and ringmaster. Have a ring toss game with small circus-like prizes, like a snow cone maker or gold fish. There are many other games to choose from as well, such as a beanbag toss, a three-legged sack race, or a balloon animal contest. You can even rent a dunk tank!

Have a face-painting booth. Hire someone to paint the kids’ faces to look like circus animals. If you are in a place that allows a mess, or if you choose to have your party outdoors, have a pie-eating contest. Adults and kids will love shoving their faces into pies, especially after a few glasses of Manischewitz. Just make sure to provide your guests with aprons so they don’t ruin their bar mitzvah best.

If you’re interested in flashier entertainment, try a fire breather or hire an aerialist to twirl from the ceiling and offer guests drinks and hors devours.


Wrap up a box of animal crackers in beautiful ribbons. You can also create custom reusable cups with your party’s logo that will remind guests of your child’s bar mitzvah party extravaganza!

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